‘Small talk in prison had him as a con man who got rich people to sit in strange boxes that allowed them to make love better.’ That is not too far off the truth. But in the case of Wilhelm Reich it is difficult to decide where deceit ended and self-deception began. Let it serve as his epitaph. Reich was interned in Lewisburg Penitentiary in March 1957 and he died there on 3 November.
His early years had promised better things. Born in 1897, he was a veteran of the First World War who had gone on to become one of the stars of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in the 1920s. There were some who thought that he might become Freud’s chosen